Packing anxiety and Lariam dreams

05 September 2017

Ludvig shares his diary from his time in Democratic Republic of Congo. This week: preparations...
 
The alarm clock rings in an hour but I still cannot sleep.  
 
The last few weeks have been ... intense. Not physically. But mentally. As recently as two weeks ago, the plan was that I would travel in late March or early April, after having undergone the final 'Preparation Pre-Departure' course in Rome at the end of March. But then, suddenly, "you're going to Kinshasa. When can you go?" And that's it.
 
The packing has given me huge anxiety. I think it's my brain's way of channelling the monumental anxiety I feel about the mission as a whole, something that is still reasonably graspable. Yet. How many pairs of shoes to pack? What do I bring for work clothes? How much personal stuff can I take with me? And of course: cheese. Ever since I joined the preparatory course last year, it has been drummed into like a mantra: "you should bring a gift for your team and the gift will be CHEESE". (It is apparently hard to come by ... and yes, MSF's after all a French organisation ....). So now it lies there. 500 grams of Swedish “Västerbotten” and 400g Comte.
 

A wheel of Västerbotten cheese. Photo: Creative Commons 2.0. 

Why am I doing this? Well, I ask myself that question all the time and I'm not even sure that I completely understand. It is a strange mixture of altruism and egoism. For no one should believe that I choose to work for MSF only to help the malnourished African children - far from it. Should I be ashamed that I am also attracted by the work itself? No, I don't think so. I don't believe that I would do a good job if I did not also appreciate it for what it is. That dichotomous relationship is probably a prerequisite for working for MSF. Everyone I discussed the issue with agrees.
 
I'll go now, and enjoy the last 40 minutes I'll spend in my own bed for a long time. And above all, lie next to Cicci. I'll have to wait for later posts to write about the extremely fine support she and everyone else around me has been recently.
 
The plan right now is to get home sometime around midsummer. I will close my eyes and hope to dream about it. Lariam (malaria tablets) is making my dreams crazy right now.
 
Good night!
 
 
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